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Drone to measure radiation inside tainted Fukushima plant buildings

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to use a drone to measure radiation inside heavily contaminated structures as it prepares to decommission damaged reactors there, according to officials of the operator.

    Data obtained from its use is expected to help the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., create 3-D maps and identify areas with high-level radiation inside buildings where workers cannot stay safely.

    The drone envisioned for the task is 93 centimeters wide and 83 cm long, and, equipped with four propellers, can fly for around 15 minutes. The operator envisions its use inside buildings that house damaged reactors and inside those housing turbines.

    In February Tepco, as it is known, tested a drone inside the turbine building for the No. 3 reactor, one of three reactors that experienced meltdowns in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    After improving its performance, the plant operator has decided to put the drone into use for radiation measurement. But it is still considering where it should begin using the machine, according to the officials.

    The government and Tepco are aiming to start debris extraction work from 2021, and are currently in the process of determining a specific approach to removing melted fuel from each damaged reactor and of updating their decommissioning road map.

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